Fitch ready to contend once more

By E. Spencer Kyte / Photo by Esther Lin

Long before Jon Fitch became a part of the team at American Kickboxing Academy, the man he’ll face at UFC 127 was working with the same trainers who have helped make him one of the best fighters in the sport today.

Though the image many people have of B.J. Penn preparing for a fight has been crafted by various UFC Countdown specials showing the former two-division champion training in his native Hawaii, Penn indeed trained in San Jose, and Fitch has heard all the stories and uses them as motivation.

“It’s like chasing ghost almost, hearing stories about a guy you’ve never gotten to work with or train with or anything. When I first came to AKA was shortly after B.J. had left, and everybody who had trained him or trained with him was still around, and he was a pretty amazing athlete, so you’ve got a lot of stories about some of the things he’s done and what he’s capable of.

“You kind of have this mythological thing in the gym because of B.J.’s presence there before, and it’s like you’re always trying to chase it. It’s kind of like having an older brother, and you always have to kind of live in his shadow a little bit.”

In the time since Penn left San Jose, Fitch has established himself as one of the elite welterweights in the world


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